Controversial wooden train linked to convicted child sex offender is destroyed

A wooden model train linked to a child sex offender but was planning to be displayed in front of the Metolius City Hall has apparently been destroyed.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office posted on Facebook that Undersheriff Marc Heckathorn heard the train had been taken to the dump and went to the landfill to “obtain photo proof of this but the remnants had already been transported away.”

“The Undersheriff interviewed multiple employees and found one worker who said he was working the bay today and witnessed city employees’ dump the train (already in pieces),” the post said. “The worker said he had seen the news articles yesterday and immediately recognized the train set even being in pieces. The worker said he then loaded the pieces into the garbage container and was 100% confident the train has been destroyed and won’t resurface again.”

The post said Heckathorn updated the victim, Cassandra Ruwaldt, and she was “very appreciative of his efforts in proving the trains’ destruction.”

Ruwaldt shared with us her text exchange with Heckathorn, and while she was pleased it was gone, she still wanted proof and to hear from city officials.

“Once again, city council acted unilaterally without considering its constituents or the community at large,” Ruwaldt told Central Oregon Daily News. “As a result, they took away our chance to come together as a community in unity and healing to stand up for victims of child sex abuse.”

The train’s creator, former Jefferson County resident Richard Pickett, is currently serving time for child sex abuse and child pornography.

Ruwaldt said the train had been built on her property when she was a kid and used as a way to spend one-on-one time with her.

Ruwaldt’s family moved in with Pickett when she was just seven.

In 2009, after more than a decade of abuse, he was convicted on dozens of counts.

Metolius Mayor Carl Elliott says the city bought the model off Craigslist last year, with no knowledge of its past.

Ruwaldt attended a City Council meeting in March, to explain.

The Mayor says they asked for citizen feedback and the responses they received were generally in favor of keeping the display.

Calls today to City Hall were unanswered.

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